AiThority Interview with Adrian McDermott, President of Products at Zendesk
Hi Adrian, you are the go-to architect for Zendesk products. What approach do you take to create easy, cohesive, and frictionless experiences along the entire customer journey?
Customer experience (CX) is the sum of each service moment along the customer journey, from one purchase to the next. My approach is to always ensure that we have a robust Omnichannel strategy to anticipate potential disconnects in customer engagements, and that allows them to retain important information to deliver a cohesive and frictionless experience across all touchpoints. As we navigate increasingly fast-moving business landscapes, we leverage the same technology that we sell to stay on top of consumer demands, translating reliable sources of customer data into actionable insights. The transparency and centralized data gained from an open and flexible CRM like Zendesk Sunshine enables businesses to have a bigger picture view of their support, which then enables them to improve productivity and customer satisfaction.
This is crucial for businesses to deliver personalized CX, which sets them apart from the competition. Customers today expect premium service to be built-in from the get-go – from the first interaction to the moment they ask for help, for post-purchase, and back again – which is why we take this approach in everything we do.
What unique technology stacks have you designed in the last 2 years that were nearly impossible to imagine 10 years ago? Tell us more about Zendesk Sunshine’s evolution.
I’m incredibly proud to be leading the strategic development of our open and flexible CRM platform, Zendesk Sunshine, which is capable of delivering an unrivaled level of scalability and reliability that would have been impossible to achieve a decade ago.
Sunshine was first launched in 2018 to help businesses connect and understand all their customer data, no matter where it lives. With Amazon Web Services (AWS) built into its core, it enables businesses to overcome challenges associated with legacy technologies and infrastructures, while providing ease of access to customer data. We have also introduced a new sales force automation tool, Zendesk Sell, to enhance productivity, processes, and pipeline visibility for Sales teams.
Most recently, we’ve launched a new functionality for Sunshine to equip businesses with the tools they need to build for a complete view of the CX. The core components of the platform now include:
- Profiles – Lets businesses connect profile attributes about their customers across multiple systems into a single customer view.
- Custom Objects – Store critical business information (such as a product or service data).
- Events – Lets businesses connect interactions about their customer (web visit, in-product action).
- Conversations – Unify messages from every channel into a single conversation.
We’ve also introduced the new Support Suite and Sales Suite, expanding our service-first CRM solutions by enabling Service and Sales teams to instantly connect with their customers and have natural conversations across all touchpoints.
These developments represent a big shift for Zendesk, reflecting our continued move upmarket and the deepening of our use cases beyond support.
What technology-related factors have led to the massive disruption in the CRM and Cloud-based Contact Center platforms?
Open standards and the security, speed, and reliability of public clouds have completely changed the way CRM and contact centers operate. Developers are now able to leverage their own coding language and tools to build and deploy custom applications faster. Zendesk Sunshine, for example, is built on AWS which makes it easy for businesses to build differentiated, frictionless experiences along with a comprehensive view of the customer across systems.
Traditional CRM solutions were created with the primary goal of helping Sales teams effectively sell products and services, addressing just one part of the entire customer journey. This piece of the customer journey is becoming less important as businesses increasingly depend on long-term relationships rather than individual transactions. Thanks to this ease of integration and stronger analytics to understand their customers, Cloud-based CRM systems are now one of the fastest-growing categories in the enterprise software market.
Hear it from the pro: How to use customer feedback to build a better product? How often do you exchange and provide feedback from Sales to your Product Development and Marketing teams?
Businesses succeed when their customers are happy, and savvy organizations start by leveraging analytics to better your products. We’re in constant communication with our Sales, Product and Marketing teams to evaluate the customer conversations and feedback in order to improve our product roadmap. By being on the pulse of your customers’ needs, you can more easily pull insights and engage with your customers about their feedback.
What does your Sixth Sense say about the future of the “CX” industry?
Customer expectations will only continue to rise as industry disruptors continue to reset the benchmark for delivering outstanding customer experience. Companies like StashAway, Circles.Life and Bukalapak come to mind. As a result of these heightened expectations, customers will be constantly comparing your business with the best CX they’ve ever had.
In fact, according to our Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report, half of the customers globally will switch to a competitor after just one bad experience, and 80% will leave after multiple bad experiences. This means customer loyalty should not be taken for granted, as your customers have more power, information, and options than ever. We also know that service supersedes price when it comes to building a loyal customer base, as the price can be easily undercut by a competitor that provides a more memorable experience.
Thank you, Adrian ! That was fun and hope to see you back on AiThority soon.
Adrian leads Zendesk’s Product Management, Engineering and Operations teams.
Prior to Zendesk he was CTO at Attributor and, as general manager, ran the video compliance business from first customer sales to business unit acquisition.
Zendesk is a CRM company that builds support, sales, and customer engagement software designed to foster better customer relationships. From large enterprises to startups, we believe that powerful, innovative customer experience should be within reach for every company, no matter the size, industry or ambition. Zendesk serves more than 150,000 customers across hundreds of industries in over 30 languages.